Helping Your Loved One Avoid Flu SeasonOctober 31, 2022
As the weather starts to cool, there’s a second season that starts to populate our heads. Not winter, but flu season. While you can get the flu any time of year, the actual “flu season” begins in October and can extend into May.
Many people aren’t too concerned about the flu virus and its effects, but this can be a disastrous oversight for those who provide care to seniors. Due to their weakened immune systems, older adults (people 65 and up) are far more likely to develop serious complications upon catching the flu.
After a precarious few years with the pandemic, helping your loved one avoid flu season is likely a top priority for you. Thankfully, flu prevention is easy—and you may already be partaking in these crucial steps.
Ways to help your loved one avoid flu season
Get a flu shot
The best way to fight the flu is to get vaccinated at the beginning of the season. Flu strains change slightly every year, so you can’t count on your vaccine from the previous year. If you don’t get vaccinated in the fall, don’t worry—it is never too late to get vaccinated. Make an appointment for you and your loved one as soon as possible.
This grows to be more difficult as the temperatures drop and most of our activities outside the home are pushed indoors. However, busy public places are some of the most likely locations where may pick up the flu. You and your elderly loved one should avoid going to busy areas at high-traffic times.
If you have to be in these locations at the busiest times, consider wearing a mask. There is no doubt you have some left over from the last handful of years, after all.
Boost their emotional health
While it is safer to remain in the comfort of one’s home, those who feel isolated are likely to experience depression, which can lower the immune system. Those who engage in hobbies and remain social not only experience better mental health but better physical health.
Try to keep your loved one social, but as safe as possible. Connect them with smaller groups of family and friends instead of large gatherings. Help them get acclimated to social media and video chat services so they can stay in contact with more people more often.
Stress good health habits
One of the best ways to maintain one’s quality of health is to make sure you and your loved ones are practicing healthy habits. These include regularly washing one’s hands with warm water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching one’s nose or mouth, and regularly cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated.
You and your loved one should also be taking steps to support your immune system by taking care of your full body health. This includes getting a good night’s sleep, drinking plenty of water, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
These tips will not only be beneficial during flu season, but all year long.
What to do if you catch the flu
Despite all your best efforts, you may still get sick. When you begin experiencing flu-like symptoms, take the proper steps to allow you to stay at home. Call upon the help of a family member, friend, or respite caregiver to take over caring for your elderly loved one. If they live with you, you should try to quarantine from them.
When either you or your loved one are sick, antiviral drugs should be taken as soon as possible to avoid symptoms progressing. Stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever breaks, and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to avoid spreading germs.
How do I know if it’s a cold or the flu?
When symptoms initially set in, you may be confused about whether it’s a cold or the flu. The best way to determine is to visit your doctor and be tested for influenza, however, there are certain signs that can indicate one or the other.
- Symptom onset? A cold will be gradual, while the flu will be abrupt.
- Fever? Fevers are rare with a cold, but common with the flu.
- Aches? There might be slight aches with a cold, but they are more common and more severe with the flu.
- Chills? Chills are not common with a cold, but fairly common with the flu.
- Fatigue? It’s uncommon to experience fatigue with a cold, but fairly common with the flu.
- Sneezing? Sneezing is quite common with a cold, but not as common with the flu.
- Coughing/chest discomfort? You may have a mild to moderate cough with a cold, but they are more common and more severe with the flu.
- Stuffy nose? These are quite common with a cold, but not with the flu.
- Sore throat? Sore throats are common with colds, but not with the flu.
- Headache? Headaches are fairly rare with a cold, but more common with the flu.
An at-home caregiver can help your loved one stay healthy
Whether you’ve caught the flu or can’t spend enough time with your elderly loved one due to work, an at-home caregiver can help your loved one get through flu season. At Home Care Powered by AUAF, our caregivers can help prepare delicious and healthy meals for your elderly loved one. They can also assist with some light housekeeping to keep the home clean and safe.
Caregivers can assist with all the activities of daily living one struggles with—from personal care to brain games. Call us at 773-274-9262 to learn more about how we can help.
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